At some point in the last few years, you may have heard that we have entered a new industrial era – the age of big data. No matter your industry, data is playing a larger and larger role in the way we do business, and this impacts everyone from consumers to manufacturers to service providers, and everyone in between.
Keeping up with the evolution of the data age can feel like a daunting undertaking, but there are some common threads which can help you drive to success. Wherever you are on your digital journey, a solid CRM will help you grow and scale your business, and the Salesforce platform is the best on the market.
Before we go any further, it’s important to understand what CRM is, and how it will help your business. A CRM is a Customer Relationship Management system, and the name says it all. Your CRM is the tool you use to create, grow, manage, and analyze the relationships you have with your customers, partners, vendors, and even competitors. A basic CRM is like a rolodex on steroids, with the ability to track not just who your business interacts with, but also allows you to track touch points like phone calls and emails, as well as basic information on sales and more. Salesforce is not a basic CRM – it goes a lot deeper.
Salesforce Core Overview
The core Salesforce platform rests somewhere between Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). Without getting into the nitty gritty of those two terms and how they differ, this really just means that instead of going out and buying a disk with a software package that you make a one-time payment for and use until it’s time to upgrade, you’re instead paying for a program that is being supported and evolving while you use it. The core Salesforce platform undergoes regular bug fixes along with three annual upgrades which each bring new features and functions that will help your business grow.
Out of the box, Salesforce comes with some key tools that can help every business. While these may differ slightly based on the type of licenses you choose, they are the basic building blocks which will get you started in CRM.
The primary tools in Salesforce are:
- Objects (read tabs or database tables or excel sheets) that let you start collecting information on the people and businesses you come into contact with and help you usher them through engaging with your company.
- Leads are like business cards and allow you to house information on anyone you come into contact with, even if you don’t know if they’re a good prospective customer for you.
- Accounts and Contacts hold all of your qualified customers (whether or not they’ve actually started doing business with you yet) as well as your partners, vendors, and competitors.
- Opportunities are where you keep track of the deals you’ve worked and enable you to get a sense of how good your team is at converting an opportunity for business into a sale.
- Cases are the go-to tool for any customer service interactions.
- Activities tie to all of these and are used to record every phone call, email, visit, letter sent, and more to ensure that everyone on your team is in the loop and has relevant context before reaching out.
In addition to these fundamental building blocks and regular upgrades, Salesforce is eternally extendable, and many of the things you might want to add to really make it work for you can be done with just a few clicks, which is what really makes Salesforce the powerhouse it is.
Customizing Salesforce For Your Business
Want to send a thank you email to new customers after they buy their first product? How about automatically applying discounts when you change your pricing so that your customers with pending contracts get the best deal? Or maybe you just want to make sure that an updated phone number for a contact is reflected in their open service requests so that your team isn’t wasting their time calling a dead line? You can do all of that and a lot more without ever calling a developer.
But maybe you need something a lot more specialized. Have you built a crazy complex pricing engine in your decades-old AS400 system and need to run all of your deals through there? With Salesforce’s open APIs and the ability to write custom web services, Salesforce can integrate with nearly any integratabtle system on the market.
Do you have a special way you apply commissions that take a lot of crazy number crunching? Salesforce has a powerful scripting language that can accomplish nearly any task you’d expect from a modern programming language. Want to streamline the contract process by giving your team a tool to automatically generate contracts, track redlines, and collect e-signatures? With the AppExchange, Salesforce’s app market for 3rd party vendors to create and sell powerful targeted solutions, you can add document and signature management to your platform with minimal effort and start seeing benefits in hours or days instead of months or years.
Because Salesforce is such a powerful and dynamic platform, I’ve barely begun to scratch the surface. We could spend hours discussing the power of custom apps, the benefits of Lightning, and the joys of force.com solutions. We could go down the rabbit hole of how Einstein democratizes AI and machine learning so that even a small mom and pop shop can get the same kinds of insights that Fortune 500 companies have sunk millions into developing. We could dig into how Communities let you stand up customer and vendor facing websites and all of the incredible things that could do for your business. But for now, I hope this serves as a good introduction to what a CRM is and how Salesforce will fill all of your CRM needs as the #1 solution on the market.
As the most influential marketing-focused Salesforce consultancy in the world, helping marketers understand how to leverage Core to level up their customer experience is an integral part of what we do. We know that marketing is the glue that holds the customer experience together, and that isn’t only limited to marketing automation and multi-channel communications. It means tying your entire business together to create a holistic view of your customers.
Meet The Author
Jared Baker is a Solution Consultant focused on Salesforce core products, including Sales, Service, and Community Clouds. Originally from Ohio, Jared has been living in Los Angeles for the past 10 years. With a background in education, Jared is passionate about teaching others and helping them grow and succeed. In their spare time, Jared loves to knit, visit Disneyland with their husband, or just spend time sipping good tea and reading books or watching the latest nerdy show or movie.